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10-16-2021-football-at-columbia-isaiah-malcome-sukhmani-kaur
Graduate student running back Isaiah Malcome runs into the endzone for a touchdown against Columbia at Wein Stadium on Oct. 16. Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Sitting at 0-2 in Ivy League play, the Quakers (2-3) are faced with an uphill climb in conference standings as they prepare for their matchup against the Yale Bulldogs (2-3, 1-1 Ivy) this Saturday, Oct. 23. 

In the past ten matchups, Penn and Yale have each notched 5 wins. In their most recent matchup, in 2019, Penn lost against Yale in a close, high-scoring game that ended 46-41. Now, Penn is looking to get back in the win column against the Elis.  

The Quakers continue their stretch of six consecutive conference games this Saturday. Following their conference losses against the Dartmouth and Columbia, the team sits at the bottom at the Ivy League, tied with Brown and Cornell. A win against the Bulldogs can give the Quakers the momentum to start moving up in the standings.

To secure a win, the Quakers will likely rely on their rushing game, which has made numerous strides throughout the season. The Red and Blue have scored a rushing touchdown every game thus far; they have also gotten two rushing touchdowns in each of the past two games. Graduate student Isaiah Malcolme has been leading the way, having scored a touchdown in each of the past three games and rushing for over 400 yards so far this season.

Penn’s passing game will need to recover from a rough matchup against Columbia to put them in position to get a win. Senior quarterback John Quinnelly completed a mere 24% of his passes last week. 

However, the Bulldogs have a solid defense that may make things difficult. They have only let up six rushing touchdowns this season. They even kept the Dartmouth Big Green to a mere 87 yards in their previous matchup. In contrast, Penn defense gave up 240 rushing yards when they faced off against Dartmouth in the Quakers' home opener.

Additionally, the Bulldogs’ defense accumulated a season-high eight sacks against Lehigh and season-high three interceptions against Cornell. They are led in tackles by senior Micah Awodiran, who has eight.

Penn’s defense will be key to stopping Yale’s offense, which primarily relies on their passing. Yale’s quarterback, junior Griffin O’Connor, has, except for last week, thrown over 100 yards and a touchdown in every game this season. 

Penn’s defense could stop O’Connor in his tracks; the defense has only allowed three passing touchdowns this season. Defensive backs like senior Mohammed Diakite can be key players in stopping O’Connor’s momentum.  

Both teams desperately need a win this weekend to move up in the conference standings, but only one will be able to come out on top.

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